Welcome to WESTAF NOW!
WESTAF is excited to introduce our brand new newsletter, WESTAF Now: Arts News and Notes from the West and Beyond. WESTAF Now features arts and culture news from across the western region and the latest updates on WESTAF’s efforts to energize, network, and fund public sector arts agencies and communities in the West. We hope you like the new format!
INCLUSION & EQUITY
Leaders of Color
For the past 10 years, WESTAF has been investing in and promoting representative leadership and equity in the cultural sector through the professional development of rising BIPOC leaders across the western region. So of course we were really looking forward to kicking off our new partnership with South Arts to launch the region’s inaugural Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program in July, followed by the tenth convening for leaders of color in the western region in the fall. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we decided not to hold in-person gatherings for the ELC program in both the South Arts and WESTAF regions. To help make moving to an online format as successful as possible, the Social Responsibility and Inclusion team has enlisted the expertise of longtime ELC faculty member Salvador Acevedo, managing partner at Scansion, to help us adapt the program to a remote learning environment. We’re excited to connect with leaders of color from the West and the South in this revised format in late 2020 and in spring 2021.
ALLIANCES, ADVOCACY, & POLICY
Coming Soon: Stories of Resilience
Since March, WESTAF has focused much of its work on supporting and empowering the field during the COVID-19 pandemic, including gathering resources to support artists and organizations experiencing disruption and providing a variety of COVID-19 impact reports. To offer the field a little (much needed!) good news, we reached out to our colleagues in the West to ask them to share any stories of success in overcoming the obstacles of our current pandemic climate as well as advances in their pursuit of cultural inclusion and equity. These Stories of Resilience showcase the ways artists, activists, and advocates in the region are addressing current and ongoing challenges, such as new programming, activism in the community, volunteerism, and other successful efforts that deserve recognition. We are excited to share these stories with you in the fall!
Arts and Culture Sector Receives Over $68 Million in State Relief Funds Across the WESTAF Region
In other silver linings, the state of Oregon recently approved a$50 million relief packagefor Oregon culture that includes $25,984,872 to Business Oregon for statewide distribution to cultural organizations by the Oregon Cultural Trust. Over $14 million in additional appropriations were made to specific arts and cultural organizations and nearly $10 million allocated to the Independent Venue Coalition in support of 78 independent venues across the state. With the recent $16.5 million allocation of state relief funds to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums and the$2 million state relief funds allocation to the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the total in state-directed relief funds directly supporting arts and culture has risen to $68.5 million across the region. The Utah Division of Arts and Museums’ Create in Utahprogram is in the process of disbursing the initial $9 million relief package and a recent refill of $7.5 million in the form of grants to arts organizations with programs that boost tourism and help local economies recover. The Arizona Commission on the Arts is in the process of developing a program to disburse state relief funds. All three of these state arts agencies have shown tremendous leadership in making the case for the value of arts and culture and their need for support during this period of extreme disruption. Arts advocacy organizations Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Cultural Advocacy Coalition (Oregon), and Utah Cultural Alliance have also been instrumental in galvanizing the gubernatorial, legislative, and grassroots engagement needed to achieve these significant victories for the arts and culture sectors in these states.
Since mid-March, ZAPP has played a central role in rallying and supporting America’s community of art fairs and festivals as it confronts multiple cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As some events transition from in-person to digital, allowing potential buyers to view work and purchase from artists online, ZAPP has focused on several enhancements to the site that will make the process of collecting applications for 2021 easier for administrators. ZAPP has also improved the transparency of the application process for artists who need to make strategic decisions about the festivals they apply to in the future. To help events adapt more easily during this time of transition, the ZAPP team will also begin working on a virtual artist gallery to complement the return of in-person fairs in 2021.
CaFÉ Program Manager Raquel Vasquez was recently interviewed by an MBA student at the University of Florida. Check out this excerpt from the interview to learn about how CaFÉ came to be, its unique niche in the call for entries market, and why it’s such a valuable resource for artists and call administrators.
With many arts funders offering unexpected relief funding to artists and arts organizations in their communities due to COVID-19, it’s no big surprise that GO Smart has experienced an uptick in activity. Many GO Smart clients have been affected financially by the pandemic, but they have embraced opportunities to find new and creative ways to inject funding into the arts through COVID-19 recovery and relief programs. Since March, GO Smart has helped 15 organizations launch 19 COVID-19 relief programs to meet the needs of the field quickly. The latest development in the system is a switch to a new mail service, Mailgun, which is expected to improve email deliverability and the tracking of received, opened, and bounced emails.
Creative Vitality Suite
Perhaps our favorite piece of good news is that this spring, WESTAF released its first installment of the Creative Vitality List, a new series of data-driven profiles that celebrate the arts, culture, and creativity of America’s most vital and vibrant places and spaces. To create these lists, CVSuite utilized its economic impact data to identify communities with a high number of creative industries and artists. The stories of these communities help demonstrate how the arts and culture sector strengthens local economies and attracts visitors, businesses, and new residents while sustainably developing neighborhoods, encouraging equity and inclusivity, and minting new generations of creative problem solvers working at the nexus of art, business, and technology. With our kickoff list of the Top 30 Most Creative Small Cities, we chose to look beyond the usual suspects like New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Austin, to discover places off the beaten path. While we weren’t surprised to see Santa Fe, New Mexico at the top of the list, we loved that cities like Medford, Oregon; Kingston, New York; and Iowa City, Iowa also made the cut. We are currently working on our second list and are again pleasantly surprised by what we’re discovering about creative cities across the country. We can’t wait to share it with you! Look for our next Creative Vitality list to drop this fall.
WESTAF BOARD OF TRUSTEES
New Trustee Spotlight
The WESTAF board of trustees just got bigger and better thanks to the addition of two new trustees, Megan Miller and Susan Garbett, who were both elected earlier this year.
As Burning Man‘s director of communications, Megan Miller oversees the organization’s year-round communications team, which facilitates the flow of information to and from Burning Man’s founders, board of directors, volunteers, the media, and the broader public. Before joining the Burning Man staff in 2012, Miller spent 10 years in the public and nonprofit sectors working for environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, political campaigns, and the United States Senate. Miller was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska.
In 2014, Susan Garbett joined the opening team of the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, developing partnerships and standard operating procedures for the new venue. As the general manager, she oversaw programming initiatives with partners such as the Center for Art and Performance, the University of California, Los Angeles; the David Lynch Foundation; and Goldenvoice. In December 2019, she joined Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico as the general manager of the House of Eternal Return. Garbett cares deeply about bringing art to everyone and creating spaces that transport audiences to fantastic realms of story and exploration.
As you can guess, we’re excited to welcome Megan and Susan to the board of trustees!
Strategic Planning Cohorts
In 2019, WESTAF established four strategic planning cohorts (business, communications, equity, and policy) to map out the operationalization of major components of the WESTAF 10-Year Vision and Strategic Plan. The cohorts continue to meet (virtually!) and have folded projects in response to COVID-19 into their existing initiatives, which are based on scoping documents they created early on to inform their work and goals. Most recently, the cohorts have connected with trustee advisors to deepen staff and trustee relationships and tap into the vast and diverse expertise of the board. As the next fiscal year approaches, the cohorts are looking ahead—with the help of their trustee advisors—to identify the progress they would like to see in 2021, as well as which projects will be prioritized over the remainder of this year and into the next.
WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund
Hopefully you already heard that WESTAF and its five sisterRegional Arts Organizations(RAOs) have partnered with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation on a new relief grant to support arts organizations in the 13-state western region. The $10 million Regional Arts Resilience Fund is a first-of-its-kind relief and recovery grant to each of the six US RAOs and is designed to help mitigate the financial threat to the sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting small- and mid-sized arts organizations of all artistic disciplines in rural and urban areas that are regarded by their peers as having statewide, regional, or national impact. Through the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund, WESTAF will administer the re-granting of over $1.7 million through approximately 30-40 awards ranging from $30,000 to $75,000, with a few exceptional $100,000 grants. In alignment with WESTAF’s strategic vision for increasing opportunities, benefits, and resources for historically underrepresented communities in a manner that results in quantifiable and systemic change, the fund will support organizations led by and/or predominantly serving individuals from historically marginalized communities that identify as: Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC); low-income, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ and/or rural, remote, and under-resourced. Initial nominations were accepted through July 31, 2020 and select organizations were invited to submit full applications in mid-August. Applications will be reviewed by the panel of regional advisors, who will provide input on WESTAF’s funding recommendations. Final awards will be approved by the WESTAF Executive Committee in the fall.
Arts Across America
We are excited to be partnering with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as it showcases artists from communities and regions across the country. In this extraordinary time of uncertainty due to a global pandemic, and as the nation faces its history of systemic racism and oppression, celebrating all who contribute to the culture of the US becomes paramount to addressing inequity and ensuring the livelihood of our artists and art forms. Through Arts Across America, the Kennedy Center seeks to utilize its digital platforms to connect and uplift the stories and art of communities from across the country, while also providing much needed support to artists. Arts Across America performances feature visionary culture curators, artists, and workers using their power and agency to transform their community, and thus, the world. This is as much a celebration of the community that surrounds the artist as it is about the art itself.
Don’t forget to keep checking our COVID-19 Resources and Information page, which provides regularly updated, relevant, and valuable information for artists, arts advocates, arts organizations, and other WESTAF constituencies as we collectively respond to the evolving and urgent needs of the field during these exceptionally challenging times. And just in case you missed it, be sure to check out the final results of a COVID-19 Arts Impact Survey. Since releasing the findings, WESTAF has been responding to inquiries from across the region to share, present, and discuss these findings. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about this work.
CONNECT WITH US
The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). WESTAF assists state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.